Welcome to the Friday, January 27, Brew.
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- At least 121 new state legislative leaders elected so far
- Oklahoma will vote on marijuana legalization in March, Ohio could follow in November
- #FridayTrivia: What percentage of congressional races were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points last year?
At least 121 new state legislative leaders elected so far
At the start of each legislative session, newly elected and returning legislators elect chamber leaders. These leaders—like Senate presidents, House speakers, and majority and minority leaders—preside over the chamber or caucus, directing the legislative process and typically performing other procedural duties.
We have been tracking these leadership elections and, so far, have identified outcomes for 283 offices nationwide. Results for 33 offices are still pending.
Of the 283 called offices, legislators re-elected 57% of leaders (162) to their previous posts. In another 38% (108), they elected a different leader from the same party as the previous leader. The remaining 5% of posts (13) changed party control completely due to changes in chamber control.
Leadership turnover has been higher for Republicans. Of their 156 leaders, 48% (75) are newcomers to their positions. Meanwhile, for Democrats, 35% (45) of their 126 leaders are new to their positions.
That difference becomes starker when looking at the top leadership positions in each chamber. In the Senate, that’s the president, or president pro tempore in states where the lieutenant governor serves as the Senate leader. In the House, it’s the speaker.
We’ve found results for 47 Senate president elections. Of the 29 Republicans, 45% (13) are new to the job compared to 22% (4) of the 18 Democrats.
And we have 45 results for House speakerships. Of the 27 Republicans, 44% (12) are new, compared to 38% of the 18 Democrats.
Four top leadership positions have switched party control so far, all from Republicans to Democrats in chambers where Democrats won control: the Michigan House and Senate, Minnesota Senate, and Pennsylvania House.
But leadership elections can also represent a change even when the position remains within the same party.
- In Alaska, House lawmakers elected Rep. Cathy Tilton (R) as speaker, replacing Rep. Louise Stutes (R). Stutes previously led a multi-partisan majority made up primarily of Democrats and independents. While Tilton also oversees a multi-partisan majority, hers is made up primarily of Republicans.
- In Ohio, lawmakers elected Rep. Jason Stephens (R) over Rep. Derek Merrin (R). Merrin had previously won the House GOP caucus’ support for the speakership, but Stephens lobbied Democrats to join a portion of Republicans, securing him the office.
Learn more about the leadership positions and more using the link below.
Oklahoma will vote on marijuana legalization in March, Ohio could follow in November
The two states are the latest in an ongoing nationwide trend of marijuana initiatives appearing on ballots.
There were five such measures on the ballot last year. Voters in Maryland and Missouri approved recreational marijuana legalization, while voters in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota defeated similar measures.
To date, 21 states have legalized recreational marijuana, 12 via ballot measures and nine via legislation.
Another 16 states have legalized medical marijuana, five—including Oklahoma—via ballot measures and 11—including Ohio—via legislation.
Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws, the group leading the campaign in support of State Question 820, wanted the measure to appear on the ballot in 2022. Due to legal challenges and signature deadlines, the measure had to be moved to a later election. On Oct. 18, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) set the special election for March 7, 2023.
In Ohio, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol recently submitted 136,729 valid signatures for a similar recreational marijuana legalization initiative.
Since Ohio uses indirect initiated statutes, the proposal is first submitted to the Ohio General Assembly. Lawmakers have until May 3 to approve the measure. If they reject or take no action, initiative supporters must collect an additional 124,046 valid signatures within 90 days. If successful, the initiative would then appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.
But that’s just a look at 2023. Four marijuana-related initiatives in three states—Florida, Nebraska, and Wyoming—are currently gathering signatures to appear on ballots in 2024.
#FridayTrivia: What percentage of congressional races were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points last year?
In 2022, 9.8% of all congressional races (46) were decided by fewer than five percentage points. That’s an increase from 8.9% in 2020.
But if you look at races decided by fewer than 10 percentage points, the percentage in 2022 actually decreased compared to 2020.
What percentage of congressional races were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points last year?